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HOOAH! Student rallies campus, community for vets

Nicholas Gries, a nontraditional student at UW-Green Bay, has had many experiences in his life that have made him the man he is today. But it is his military experience that drives his current passion to dive further, dig deeper — both at the University, and in service to his community.

“The number one thing that the military has taught me is not to be content with my situation; you can always do more…” says Gries, a business and finance major. “The military has also taught me to set my goals high and work hard until the mission is complete. We do not fail. We make mistakes, learn from them, and get back up and try again.”

Gries served as a fire team leader in in the 1st Ranger Battalion of the United States Army from 2002 until 2006. In 2010 he joined the Wisconsin Army National Guard as a squad leader. In 2012, he joined the National Guard full time, in the Active Guard Reserve (AGR) as a non-commissioned officer, a position he maintains today.

Gries was one of the two founders of 4th HOOAH WI (Helping out our American Heroes), a local branch of a national organization dedicated to supporting deployed service men and women, their stateside families and returning veterans. Gries has also helped establish a scholarship at UW-Green Bay for continuing service men and women, or veterans of the armed forces.

“I am president of 4th HOOAH WI, and we look at any and every way possible to help Veterans and their families,” he says. “I am a firm believer in higher education for everyone so this is one way we can help veterans and their families reach the goals they set out for themselves.”

This year, Veterans Day (Wednesday, Nov. 11) will be a little more hectic for Gries, who is an organizer of HOOAH WI’s major fundraising effort of the year —the third annual Veteran Suicide Rucksack March — a 22-mile walk/run/march beginning at Stadium View Bar and Grille, 1963 Holmgren Way. At 4 p.m. that day, HOOAH WI will be recognized, with other veterans’ scholarship donors, at UW-Green Bay’s annual Veterans Reception at 4 p.m. in the University Union.

(The expression “hooah,” incidentally, has no precise dictionary definition, but is instantaneously recognizable to service members and veterans (mostly Army) as military slang — a confident, catch-all expression of high morale, cohesiveness and motivation.)

Gries, a Bay Port High School graduate, said he was initially drawn to UW-Green Bay because of its sound business program and the school’s location, but he has been impressed after the fact that the campus provides the non-traditional student an ideal opportunity for degree completion.

“I am not a traditional student…The thing I like the best about the campus and school is the times of the classes, allowing me to make it to my full time job…All of my instructors have been more than understanding…I believe nontraditional students are more than welcomed and treated as peers.”

For more information about the Third Annual Veteran Suicide Rucksack March.

Story by student Emily Schuh, editorial intern, Marketing and University Communication Office